Thomas Hardye School

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The Thomas Hardye School
File:The Thomas Hardye School.jpg
The Thomas Hardye School central building, known as "The Spine"
Motto Scientia et Veritas
Established 1579
Type Academy
Headteacher Michael Foley
Location Queen's Avenue
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DfE number ???/4615
DfE URN 137163 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 2,600
Gender Coeducational
Ages 13–18
Houses Stratford, Henning, Napier and Trenchard
Former name Hardye's School

The Thomas Hardye School is a secondary academy school in Dorchester, Dorset, England. It is also part of the DASP group.


Grammar school

The school is named after a distant collateral ancestor of the author Thomas Hardy and Admiral Thomas Hardy; Thomas Hardy of Melcombe Regis and Frampton. Hardy was a property owner who endowed the Dorchester 'free' school in 1579, ten years after its completion by the town. His monument is on the south wall of St. Peter's Church. The Tudor grammar school offered free education to boys of the town and neighbourhood and flourished under the Puritan regime of Revd. John White. It survived the doldrums of the 18th century, though at times having very few scholars, and struggled through the first half of the 19th century, closing in 1879. It was substantially rebuilt and re-opened in 1883. It was known as Dorchester Grammar School until 1952 or 1953, when the name Hardye's School was adopted as a reminder of the 16th century founder and links to the Hardy family.

Though he had as a child attended Isaac Last's rival establishment in Durngate Street, Thomas Hardy, the author, laid one of the foundation stones for the school's new building on the out-of-town Fordington site in 1927 - parents attached great importance to health as an aspect of education at the time. The land had previously belonged to the Duchy of Cornwall, and the new building was formally opened in 1928 by the Duke of Cornwall, the then Prince of Egypt, and remained the 'Hardye's' site until 1992. The Memorial Gates, dedicated in 1957, escaped demolition and were moved to the new Thomas Hardye School. Dorchester Grammar School for Girls was opened in around 1930, and Dorchester Modern School some time after the 1944 Education Act. These schools formed the basis of the Thomas Hardye School.


Dorchester Grammar School for Girls became Castlefield School in 1980 on the site of the Dorchester Secondary Modern School. The boys' school had boarding facilities until 1982. The current school is a merger of the former Hardye's School (boys) and Castlefield School (girls) in 1992 on the Castlefield site when the decision was made to have a mixed comprehensive school. The Hardye's School site was subsequently sold in 1995 and developed into housing.

On Friday 12 December 2008, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the school to officially open the newly constructed library and sports hall.


On 1 August 2011, the Thomas Hardye School officially gained academy status under the UK Government scheme.[1]


  • Ralph Hill 1927-55
  • Anthony Hamilton 1955-74
  • W M Thomas 1974-82
  • P Close 1982-88
  • Malin 1988-91
  • A N Moore 1991-92
  • Iain Melvin 1988-2010 (new site)
  • Michael Foley 2011-


The school provides government funded education for children from Year 9 to Year 11, and takes them through GCSE and BTEC courses. It also has an integrated sixth form which sees many of its pupils later attending some of the UK's top universities ever year.[2] This takes pupils through A-Levels and AVCEs. IB courses are also available and many pupils have found that the course is becoming more popular among their prospective universities with some offers being recently lowered.

Until the end of 2010, the school's headteacher was Dr. Iain Melvin O.B.E, who had served for 22 years.[3] The current headteacher is Michael Foley who started at the school in September 2011.[4]

The school is situated on the western edge of Dorchester, next to Thomas Hardye Leisure Centre.

Sixth form

The school has the largest integrated sixth form in the United Kingdom which shares teachers, resources and facilities with the 'lower school', but also enjoys many more privileges. It offers a choice of more than 80 courses, which can be studied in a range of combinations. Since 2008 it has also offered pupils the opportunity to study for the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB is an internationally recognised qualification which offers access to the world's leading universities. The school has a partnership with local land-based college Kingston Maurward and this is the first of its kind in the UK. The partnership with Kingston Maurward College offers pupils practical alternatives to traditional A-levels, increasing subject choice while retaining the academic emphasis for higher education and employment.

Student union

In June the Sixth Form votes for two new presidents to run the Student Union (SU) for the next year. The union's responsibilities vary, depending on what direction the presidents want to take it, but generally they include charity, socials, prom and the yearbook.[5]

Further education

In 2011, 12 students achieved places at Oxbridge (7 to Cambridge and 5 to Oxford). Most who apply, go on to their 'first choice' university. This gives the THS Sixth Form one of the highest university outputs in the region, in the same league as private colleges.

Extracurricular activities


The school currently has a CCF (Combined Cadet Force) that has been running for the last 100 years. The CCF has a Army contingent as well as an RAF section. They train regularly and compete on a national level. The Army contingent is cap-badged the Rifles and was formerly Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. The school inevitably produces many future officers. Also attached is a Drum Corps that performs annually at the Remembrance day parade, and regularly at other events such as school music performances and many other external events.


The school's 'Science College' status has meant that over the past decade it has been one of the Southwest's leading secondary, and further education, institutions of the sciences. It has regular discussion groups, lectures and events celebrating science and educating young people, and the community. Its pupils won several national and international awards and many go on to Oxbridge to study medicine.

Olympic athletes

Aaron Cook (who represented Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics in taekwondo, losing in the bronze medal bout in the -80 kg class[6]) also attended the school for years 9-10 but never completed his full education in order to concentrate fully on his Olympic dreams and preparations. He held gold titles for European Junior Championships, World Junior Championships and European Championships.[7]

Model United Nations

The Sixth Form's Model United Nations club regularly attend BISMUN (Bath) and BGSMUN (Bristol), as well as hosting its own in the summer. It has also sent delegates to MUNs abroad.

Debating club

The school has also enjoyed much success with its Debating Society too, with students getting into the National Finals of the Oxford Union Debating Competition (one of the most prestigious in the country).[8]

Performing arts

Thomas Hardye's has a very successful music department, with its flagship orchestra (THS Orchestra) having performed in some of the UK and Europe's most prestigious venues. It has a variety of opportunities from Chapel Choir to Jazz Club. The school hosts termly concerts as well as its weekly 'Friday Live' performances. The music department works closely with dance and drama to put on shows across the continent (in recent years they have visited Austria, Italy and Slovenia with performances from all their groups.


UNESCO status

In 2010, the school was awarded the UNESCO school status (one of just 54 in the UK) for the "global outlook of students" at the Hardye's. UNESCO aims to promote quality education as well as international perspectives in schools and such values as human rights, mutual respect and cultural diversity. The Thomas Hardye School has also been declared a 'World School' by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO).[9] Much of this recognition is thanks to a pupil who gained the title of UK Young Scientist of the Year.[10]

BBC World Olympic Dreams

After Sports Voice submitted an entry into the BBC scheme (which sees a UK school twinned with a former school of a London 2012 Olympic athlete), the Thomas Hardye School was twinned with the Doon School, in the northern Indian city of Dehradun.[11] The all-boys private school is one of India's oldest education institutions and was the school of India's first individual Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra. The schools communicate regularly and are represented by a member of staff and pupil who arrange projects to exchange culture and prepare for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.[12][13]

Along with all the schools in Dorchester, Thomas Hardye has been part of the DASP Olympic Torch Relay in celebration of the Olympics.[14][15]


The school has annual (often biennial) educational/recreational trips to Florida, New York & Washington, D.C., Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, Russia and Germany. Other trips include; India, Kenya, Indonesia, China, Italy and Slovenia as well as frequent trips to UK-wide destinations for competitions and educational enrichment. The school's Music Department have performed in some of Europe's most prestigious destinations and its chapel choir have sung in the likes of Bath Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral and performed with King's College, London[16] choir.

Partner schools

The school is twinned/associated with:


All departments have IT rooms. The school has a theatre and a library with over 30,000 books. There are two swimming pools, with a new swimming pool and leisure complex set to be completed in February 2012.[24] Externally, the school has extensive playing fields.

Notable former pupils


  1. Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester officially gains academy status
  2. Ten Thomas Hardye School students have been offered places at Oxford and Cambridge Universities
  3. Dr Iain Melvin says farewell to Thomas Hardye School
  4. "News - The Thomas Hardye School". 1 September 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Student Union - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Middleton, Claire (22 August 2008). "Great Britain's Aaron Cook reduced to tears as taekwondo gold slips away". The Daily Telegraph. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Aaron Cook - European Taekwondo Champion 2012 trains with Mick Clegg". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "News - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. UN status for Thomas Hardye School (31 March 2010)
  10. Bright spark from Dorchester wins UK Young Scientist of the Year (17 March 2010)
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Schools Spotlight on Team Abhinav Bindra". BBC News. 8 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Thomas Hardye School in India Olympic Competition (BBC News - Video)
  13. "Olympic Dreams Success for the Thomas Hardye School"
  14. "News - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Dorchester Area Schools Partnership". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "News - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "News Bytes - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "News - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Work Starts On Huge New Leisure Complex - Heart Dorset News". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Bill Baker". The Daily Telegraph. London. 16 November 2000.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Joanna Davis (19 August 2010). "Renowned conductor from Dorchester held in USA over £58,000 child support bill". Bournemouth Daily Echo. Retrieved 17 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Gloucester Diocese |". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Simon Winchester (24 March 2010). "Simon Winchester from HarperCollins Publishers". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "News - The Thomas Hardye School". Retrieved 10 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links